After seeing Michael off on his flight back to the U.S., I knew I’d be sad, so I had bought a ticket to see Andras Schiff that evening (Jan. 10). Schiff is a wonderful pianist and also an active political figure. Born in Budapest, Shiff has declared that he will never enter Hungary again due to its right-wing racist politics, and also renounced his Austrian citizenship because of its perceived shifts to the right. He is now a British citizen. Some of this was printed in the program booklet and is widely known. For more interesting details, see his biography at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andr%C3%A1s_Schiff.
This was the first of a series of concerts throughout the spring in which he will perform the entire cycle of Beethoven piano sonatas. I had a terrific seat on the stage, which gave me a great view of the Mozartsaal from up front, and allowed me to watch Schiff’s fingers dance balletically over the keys. His style of playing was clean, but still romantically evoking many different colors from the instrument, and interestingly I was able to see from my vantage point how much he used the “soft pedal” (“una corda”) for contrast. It was a graceful, beautiful performance.
The Konzerthaus is where I’ve seen the most concerts in Vienna, due to its wide and varied program. Often, there will be concerts simultaneously in both the Grosser Saal and the Mozartsaal (recital hall). When in the wine bar, there is a lovely old-fashioned annunciator with colored lights that flash to let you know when each concert is in progress, or in the process of seating – looks like something out of Downton Abbey!